Olympic torch-relay honour for boxing coach

Olympic torch bearer Barry O'Dowd.
Olympic torch bearer Barry O'Dowd.

PRIDE is burning brightly for a boxing coach who will have the honour of carrying the Olympic flame when the London 2012 torch-relay hits Nottinghamshire.

The iconic torch will arrive in the county on Thursday June 28 and will be at Nottingham Castle overnight until it continues its journey on Friday June 29.

Sadly, its route does not include the streets of the Dispatch district.

But one man who will get his hands on the symbolic torch will be Barry O’Dowd, head coach and founder of the Bulwell Hall Boxing Club.

Barry (64), of Fradley Close, Bulwell Hall, has been selected after being nominated for his role with the boxing club, his community work and his efforts to save the former Totley Close Community Centre on the estate.

“When I found out I would be involved in the torch relay, I was shocked,” said dad-of-four and grandfather-of-eight Barry.

“It is a real honour and I can’t wait to take part. I am just waiting for my official tracksuit to come through from LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games).

“I understand I will get to run about 600 metres with the flame. I intend to savour every second. This is more than a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I hope my friends and family are there to support me.”

Barry, who was born and raised in The Meadows in Nottingham, started boxing at the age of 14 before joining the Army at the age of 16.

He became a junior champion in the Army at the age of 17 in the welterweight division. He continued to box for a local club when posted to Borneo.

After leaving the Army, he became a scaffolder and then worked at Gedling Colliery for ten years. But he was always involved in boxing.

He helped set up the Scots Grey Boxing Club in Bulwell, which has now moved to Strelley, and then, ten years ago, he launched The Swinger Boxing Club from the former Swinger pub in Bulwell.

Four years ago, Barry led the campaign to save the Totley Close centre by appealing to companies for resources to revitalise it and save it from demolition. It is now known as the Bulwell Hall Boxing Club.

A total of 120 people will be involved in the torch relay in Nottinghamshire.

Barry will be taking part in the Nottingham city part of the relay, while the Dispatch district will also be represented on the Mansfield section where Andrew Hayward (28), of Hucknall, will get his hands on the torch.

n OUR PHOTO shows Barry as proud as punch to be chosen for the Olympic Games torch-relay — DISPIC NHUD12-0620-3.